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Hunchback Hamster

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#1 Rabbit


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Posted 10 November 2010 - 03:05 PM

A couple days ago, I noticed that Ellie (one of my Chinese hamsters) started walking with a hunch. She waddles around a bit and is hunched up while moving and while still. I know she can stretch herself out because she does so to wheel and to climb up to her food. Everything else seems normal - she is eating and drinking and running around just fine. I have held her upright and peeked at her tummy, which seems fine (no swelling or wetness), and when she does stretch out her body shape seems normal (no golf ball shape in her lower abdomen).

I may be paranoid because hunched posture was the first symptom I noticed in Charlie that told me something was wrong, and it turned out to be a tumor. Ellie is much younger but I am still worried that this could be the first sign of a more serious problem. I have considered offering her some olive oil in case she is constipated, but wouldn't I also see lethargy if this were the case? It is hard to tell how much she poops because she lives with her sister Ollie. The only change in her environment I can think of is that a few days ago (I don't remember if this was before, after or at the same time as I first noticed the hunch) I started giving both of them Cheerios as treats (no more than 1-2 at a time, and not every day). They are the plain, unsweetened variety. At one point I did offer them with a tiny bit of peanut butter. However, both Ellie and Ollie have eaten them and only Ellie is hunching. Otherwise their diet consists of a seed mix with the occasional yogurt treat. I try to give them fresh vegetables occasionally but have not done so for the last few weeks.

Any ideas?

#2 rhapsody


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Posted 10 November 2010 - 03:11 PM

Try putting Ellie in a container by herself for 15 minutes or so to see if she's pooping ok. If she isn't, the olive oil will help.

If Ellie is pooping just fine, maybe she hurt her back or foot? My Pixie started walking all hunched over a week ago, but it turns out that she managed to sprain her foreleg.

#3 missPixy


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Posted 10 November 2010 - 11:41 PM

how old is Ellie? sometimes in older hamsters the hunching is a sign of
arthritis... think about how many elderly humans also have this hunching

if she were constipated, her stomach would be bloated and she would
cry out in pain occasionally. her anus would also be puckered out from
straining, which is an important symptom in diagnosing constipation.

is their wheel big enough for their size?

do they have climbing opportunities in their home?

#4 Rabbit


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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:13 AM

Ellie is around 5-6 months old (I got her in August, and she was most likely around 2 months at the time), so I don't expect this is an age-related issue. She and Ollie have three wheels in their cage: one is a medium silent spinner, one is a small silent spinner and one is a flying saucer. Her favorite thing to use is the flying saucer (the medium sized one), although she does use all three from time to time. I hope that if the small wheel were hurting her she would stop using it, but I could try removing it. They live in a bin and I have put wire mesh on three sides, and the shelf that their food is on has mesh on three sides as well. She likes to climb up the mesh to her food and sometimes climbs up the sides of the cage as well.

I'll try isolating her later tonight when she wakes up to check for poop. When I examined her tummy I also got a look at her anus, and there was definitely no puckering or sign of pain. She really looks and acts totally healthy except for this hunch! It's the strangest thing.

Is there any way to diagnose or treat a foot injury, or should I just keep monitoring her and hope it gets better on its own if that is indeed the problem?

Edited by Rabbit, 11 November 2010 - 01:15 AM.

#5 missPixy


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Posted 11 November 2010 - 12:14 PM

to diagnose a foot injury, you'd most likely need to have a
good knowledge of hamster anatomy so when you palpate
her foot you can tell whether or not something is injured.

right now i'd wait and see for a couple of days. it might
just be something temporary.

if a wheel was too small, i don't necessarily believe it would
hurt your hamster; more likely the undersize would cause
her to try and "shorten" her body like the gradual hunching
you're seeing now.